Re: TR - With the Grandkids - Day 1 of 7
- From: Rudeney <rudeney@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2011 12:37:34 -0600
On 2/10/2011 6:49 PM, Steve Russo wrote:
We loaded our luggage quickly and Paul drove the 3 miles to pick up the
Schwabs. We made the airport at 5:30 and had our baggage checked and
were through Security in 15-minutes. No problems but you know by now I
consider the whole thing a huge hassle. Shoes off and on the belt but
not in a bin; laptop out and in a bin by itself; jacket off; ID and
Boarding Pass clenched in my teeth… I’m all in favor of keeping our
skies safe but we need to employ some common sense as well.
Common sense is not one of our government's fortes. And on my last trip, when I left Birmingham, I placed my shoes and belt in one bin, my laptop in another, and my phone and iPad in a third. The TSA rep scolded me for using too many bins, stating that all my electronics can fit int he same bin. So, when I was going through security at Las Vegas, I did that and was scolded because the laptop has to go into its own bin. Sheesh, people, make up your minds please!
We landed 27 minutes early at 10:18 and here’s where I start the
comparison with Magical Express. We caught the train to the main
terminal building, took the elevator down to Baggage Claim and waited.
It was necessary to use the elevator due to the Sit-N-Stand stroller
which is just too lengthy for an escalator. It was 11:00 when our bags
came off and we began the long trek to the rental lot. I know some
complain about the long walk to the Disney’s Magical Express area but
honestly, I believe the walk to the Alamo garage is similar – just in
the other direction.
Now if this was just Barb and me, we use the escalator and each wheel a
bag. With the 6 of us, we had 5 large suitcases, 4 backpacks and a
couple of carry-ons. Michelle pushed the Sit-N-Stand stroller with the
kids and as much loaded into the cargo bay as possible. Will and I each
pulled two wheeled suitcases and carried a backpack. It was a long trip.
The alternative with Magical Express is to walk directly from the train
to the Magical Express queues and let Disney handle the 5 suitcases. I
guess what I’m suggesting here is, for a larger group that includes
children, there’s a distinct advantage to not having to schlep bags
through the airport. Hopefully, the convenience of the rental car will
make up for this rocky beginning.
A few things you can do to avoid all the schlepping is to go get the car while others wait on bags, then collect them curbside. Or, rent one of those luggage carts. Or even pay a skycap. Me personally, i just carry the straps that hook my luggage together and make a big train out of it. Although I think some airports may require a CDL when you chain together more than 8 bags.
We pick a Grand Caravan just out of the car wash and being parked. It’s
nice car with lots of features – which also means lots of confusing
buttons and one of those new key fobs that you actually insert into the
Oh yeah, the newer Chrysler products are using the infrared Smart Key technology loaned to them when Mercedes-Benz owned them. I like these keys because the remote is built-into the key so I have less things on my keyring and no blade to stab me in the leg. I also like these keys better than the newer Nissan and BMW keys where you have to insert the plastic fob into a slot then press a START button. Once you learn the process it's not bad, but explaining it to someone else driving your car is a PITA. And of course some new cars have transmission shifters and "iDrive" controllers for the audio and A/C that require a training class to operate. Ah, the joys of modern technology!
It takes me the better part of the next week to figure out how
to open the left and right sliding doors. It also had an annoying trait
of sometimes needing 8 or 9 presses on the fob button to lock or unlock
Another Mercedes-Benz "feature". I've never figured out why, but their remotes just don't work unless you are close to the vehicle and holding it in just the right orientation. I am sure they would claim this to be some sort of safety feature.
We load everything but it’s very tight – as in filled to the brim.
We always travel fully loaded. It wouldn't feel like a vacation otherwise.
I hook up my
GPS and we’re off. Now I’m sure I’m not the only one that has “named”
their GPS. When I first got it, I set it up with a British voice and
named her Penelope. There’s just something about a British accent that
sounds more intelligent - and more polite. Unfortunately, I fell out of
love with Penelope quickly when she insisted I take a few too many “slip
road” exits. What? What the hell is a “slip road”? I was making u-turns
and driving into trees and buildings. I switched back to an American
voice, just “Penny”, and I’m happy with her… although I swear after I
miss a turn, she sounds annoyed when she says “Recalculating”. Penelope
was never annoyed with me.
I just call the voice on my GPS "The Bitch".
Penny got us to Publix on I-drive just above 192. We had a quick and
painless shopping spree. It was mainly just breakfast items, water,
juices, milk, coffee, soda and beer (a 12-pack of Blue Moon for those
that killed me on the Bud Light last trip).
Huh? What? ;-)
I also purchased a
half-dozen eggs which I had never seen before. Up here in the north,
they’re available by the dozen only.
That may be a vacation destination type of thing. The Publix in Sandestin also sells singe sticks of butter and very tiny containers of other cooking and food items.
Penny got us to the Boardwalk in a quick 5 minutes and I pulled up in
front and had 3 bellmen ask “Do you need help with bags?” You’d think
the fact that the car was loaded past the windows would have given that
Yeah, and I like to also play with them a bit. As they are making small talk, asking things like, "How long are you staying?" I answer, "Just one night, of course, otherwise we'd have packed more!"
Valet parking is no longer free for DVC members so I asked if I
could leave the car there while we checked in – which is OK as long as I
leave the keys in the ignition.
Wow, I did not know they had done away with that feature. I probably would have gone ahead and paid for valet, but then again, that would have had to go on the "Pro-DME" column of the ledger you are keeping.
It was high noon when Will and I checked in so that put us at 1:42 from
gate to resort, including a stop for groceries. If I eliminate that
stop, I really don’t believe there was any time saved over Magical
Express. With Disney’s Magical Express, I’ve made the Boardwalk in as
little as 50 minutes to a max of about 90. Again, the benefit may be in
the convenience of the rental car… we’ll see.
I'd have brought a radar detector instead of a GPS (or a Passport iQ combo unit). I then could have easily shaved 20 minutes off your time.
The rooms aren’t ready and we set up to receive text messages when they
were. I decided to add my backpack to our stored luggage and a bellman
walked me into the room to find our cart. He told me to just put it on
the cart. When I asked about the count now going from 20 to 21 bags, he
said it wasn’t a problem. That nagged at me a bit because the backpack
contained my laptop, iPod Touch, two cameras, etc. but I decided to let
it go. It’s Disney – what could go wrong?
Have I mentioned I’m back in the video game? Our children gave me a
Canon Hi-Def camcorder for Christmas so, this trip, I’m trying to
balance its use along with the Canon digital still camera. It ain’t
easy. Unlike many, I tend to shoot video as a travelogue of the entire
trip and we often watch these videos. I know others tend to take video
of shows, attractions, etc. I get some of that but, as I said, I’m
hoping to tell a “story”. I still need the still photos for my
collection as well as potential for future MousePlanet columns.
Have you tried converting video frames to stills? I have some software that does this using a pixel interpolation algorithm and it produces some decent photos for HD video. Of course it;s not like a 10MP still camera, but it's more than adequate for website sharing and slide shows.
Michelle headed to the rest room to change Christopher and Barb informs
me she can’t find her cell phone. Maybe she left it in the car. She
asks, “Did you park the car?” Whoops. Can you tell I’m used to using
Magical Express? I go outside and take the car down to Guest Parking and
park it. I scan for left-behinds and find Will’s empty camera bag (he
has the cameras). I’m searching under seats for Barb’s phone when a
stroke of genius hits. I call her cell to listen for the ring… and of
course, she answers. She found it in a jacket pocket.
Yep, that's what we always do when we misplace a cell phone, too!
We took a quick walk on the Boardwalk and Christopher, of course, was
walking a straight line down the center where the boards are arranged
differently. It was 70 plus degrees and headed for 77. Will was the only
one with the foresight to wear shorts but, then again, it was 14 degrees
when we left Albany.
I've learned that I travel better when I "dress for the destination". Yes, you may get some funny looks when walking through the airport in shorts when it's 14F outside, but I've found I spend more time out in the weather at my destination than I do at my departure.
We decided to head back to the Boardwalk to unpack, freshen up and
change. We were all thirsty so Barb bought us 2 bottles of water at the
Refreshment stand in World Showcase. I stopped at Bell Services to
request the luggage be delivered while everyone else rode the elevator
from the ground floor (the stroller kills any thought of using stairs).
Here’s another argument in favor of Disney’s Magical Express … I
probably spent $40 during the week tipping bellman. At least the $20
spent here on arrival would have been saved.
Will and William headed to the Luna Park pool for a swim and slide – we
found that William loves the slides and never seems to get tired of trip
after trip up those stairs. Christopher gets a much needed nap. The poor
guy has a constantly running nose and congestion. Barb and I take up
some balcony space and have a Blue Moon (that was abbreviated to BM in
my trip notes and would have given a much different image).
Oh, I can see the Orlando Sentinel headlines now...
We brought William up to the “in refurb” Star Tours to see the At-At out
front (he received one for Christmas) and got photos of him and
Christopher on the Speeder out front. Next up was Pizza Planet at 6:25.
We just made it as they close the place at 6:30. While we ate outside,
we watched as they turned away dozens of people. I can’t understand
this. If the park is open until 8:00, why not leave this open until
8:00? Or at least 7:30?
I suppose some bean counter has determined that they don't sell quite enough food after 6:30pm to earn the requisite 5,000% profit.
Things I Think I Think – I think I really like strutting through Orlando
International without carrying luggage.
Yeah, but better yet, I like avoiding the airport altogether! :-)
I think our fears for William
participating in rides and shows were unfounded. He seems game for
That's great news!
I think Christopher’s doing well considering we have to wipe
his nose every 3 minutes and the poor guy can barely breathe.
Aw! Is this a chronic thing, or just a typical cold? Or maybe allergies? Katie had bad allergies (and still does).
Spaceship Earth has been the first ride for my dad (when he was 85) and
now for both our grandchildren. I wish I could remember if it was our
first ride back in 1984 – somehow I think we hit Magic Kingdom our first
day. I should have written a trip report.
Yeah, we're still waiting on that one...
Next WDW Vacation?
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- From: Steve Russo
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